Faculty & Staff

Dr. Luisel Ricks-Santi Dr. Luisel Ricks-Santi Director, Cancer Research Center Location:Biomedical Center200 Phone:757-727-5631 Expertise:Cancer Research

The Hampton University Cancer Research Center (HUCRC) was founded by Dr. Luisel J. Ricks-Santi.  Dr. Luisel J. Ricks-Santi, an HU Alumna and cancer geneticist, was formally trained at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Specifically, she received a fellowship and PhD from Georgetown’s illustrious Multidisciplinary Program in Tumor Biology.  After receipt of her PhD, she was recruited into the Howard University- Johns Hopkins University Cancer Centers Program as a post-doctoral fellow.  At Howard University, she did research on cancer genomics, cancer genetic epidemiology, public health genomics, and in the clinical-translational sciences.  Her post-doctoral experience culminated in several grants and publications in international journals such as Cancer EpidemiologyGenetic Epidemiology, and Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.

While at Howard University, Dr. Ricks-Santi became an assistant professor in the Departments of Pediatrics & Child Health and Community & Family Medicine where she lectured and taught courses in Genetics, Cancer Genetics, and Biochemical Genetics.  Dr. Ricks-Santi was also a member of the Howard University Cancer Center and National Human Genome Center where she implemented research programs in prostate and breast cancer genetic epidemiology.  After 5 years at Howard University, Dr. Ricks-Santi was called “home” to establish the HUCRC.

Research at the HUCRC

As one of only a few cancer centers located at a Historically Black University, the Hampton University Cancer Research Center is dedicated to the creation of knowledge in laboratory, clinical and community-based cancer research. We apply those discoveries to develop more effective approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis and therapies – providing tomorrow’s standard of care today.

The Hampton University Cancer Research Center proposes five highly interactive cancer research programs in

  • Cancer Biology
  • Clinical-Translational Research
  • Cancer Pharmacology (Drug Discovery, Delivery & Experimental Therapeutics)
  • Community-based participatory Research (includes Cancer Control & Population Health)
  • Physics and Medical Instrumentation

with more than 21 scientists from 9 departments and affiliated institutions. Together, these five programs span the spectrum from basic science to clinical trials. During the last year, these research programs have been assessing their strengths and developing their programs with a goal to continue to grow in scientific and clinical strength through recruitment and retention of some of the world’s brightest minds in cancer research. A clear focus on translational research will enhance the quality of science and the progress toward discoveries. 

Research Focus

Cancer is a disease of the genome. The past decade has seen breath-taking advances in the characterization of point mutations and structural alterations in a wide range of cancers; all thanks to the next-generation sequencing technologies. Increasingly, the complete genome sequences of a large number of cancer types are being obtained, providing us with a comprehensive view of cancer development. In this Nature special we showcase recent genome-based efforts to construct such genomic profiles of cancer.

Our lab is focuses on probing and modeling inherent biological individual differences that result in differences disease incidence, morbidity and mortality, especially in ethnically diverse or underserved populations.  Specifically, we utilize “-Omics” technology to:

  • Identify genetic variants associated with cancer predisposition
  • Identify mutations and changes in tumor gene expression that lead to aggressive disease
  • Identify biomarkers of unfavorable outcomes in proton therapy patients 
  • Determine the effect of radiation on gene expression in normal and cancer cell lines and tissues
  • Develop novel techniques and improve the imaging of cancer
  • Develop community-based educational interventions to decrease incidence and mortality due to cancer
  • Develop nanoparticles for effective cancer drug delivery